Roswell 9: Max’s Story

There is no real rainy season in Roswell but it does sometimes rain, as it has this afternoon and it is a blessing.  When it’s hot like it was today it gives me chills but now it has cooled and it’s warmed me up.  The red clay soil no longer hangs musty and airless over the dessicated ground and chokes me.  Driving over the wet asphalt one could imagine oneself in a real city, with enough imagination.  Or just somewhere else, anywhere else.

It’s dark now and i have just pulled in front of the Crashdown to let Liz beg off working tonight.  And to see Michael.

Five minutes, i say to Liz curtly and she nods and leaves.  Michael sees me and lopes across the street from where he’s been loitering.  I get out of the jeep and stand in front of him and say, Something’s up.

He says, They’re taking things out of the sheriff’s office.

What?

Some guy in a suit, Michael says heatedly.  So we gotta get in there.

I hesitate.  He says, It’s now or never, Max.

Michael, it’s important to me too.

Bullshit, he says warmly.  All you want to do is protect what’s yours in Roswell.

That’s right.  I do.

Well, did you ever give any thought to what it’s like for me here, Max ?

Of course i did, i say diffidently as i glance over and see Liz come out of the Crashdown and hang back just out of earshot.

When i look back at Michael i see the mute accusation in his eyes and know that whatever evil he thinks of me is probably true.  I force myself to speak.

Look, i say.  The woman who pulled your records is on her way to your place .

WHAT?

Dont yell.  Just stay away from there tonight.  Isabel’s waiting for you at our house.  Go there and wait.

Wait for her to come find me?

Just wait with Izzie.  Dont go off half cocked and do something stupid.

He hurls another wounded look at me and runs across the street and disappears.

Let’s go, i say to Liz.

 

As i drive off to Michael’s trailer i dont know that Liz’s dumbass bf has seen her in the jeep with me and decides to tail us.  I should notice his car behind us and lose him but i just dont see him.  I pull into the trailer park and kill the lights when i can see Michael’s trailer. Then i pull off the street and turn off the engine.

So how did you end up where you ended up and how did Michael end up here?

Another long story, i say, irritated with her.

Is his father always…

Is he always such an asshole?  Yes.

I hear the sigh of another car pulling up in front of the trailer and would have seen it sooner if Liz hadnt been running her mouth.  It’s none other than Topolsky herself.  Liz leans closer to me to see better and it probably looks to Kyle like we’re about to have a makeout session.  But what happens next is funnier.  Liz drops her ring and bends down to look for it and it must look to Kyle like she’s about to give me head and it’s too much for that poor boy and he gets out of the car and starts walking toward us.

I only put all this together later because right now i am i’m intently watching Topolsky strut toward the trailer and knock on the door and see Hank open it.

When she sees Hank in his underwear she says, I’m sorry to bother you.  I’m looking for Michael…

And at that moment Kyle startles us.  He walks up to my side of the jeep and looks across at Liz and says, Liz!

Kyle!  She says and as she does so her face is a mask of ambivalence and guilt and resentment.  Her face is much too expressive for her to ever be a good liar, so i’ll have to remember never to put her in a position to have to lie for me.  That will be problematic because i’ll have to keep things from her and she’ll decide i’m a liar and a dissembler and all that shit.

Hey, Max, he says.

Hey there Holmes, i say and grin at him.

What’s going on?  Kyle says intently.

Nothing, Liz whispers.

Why RU whispering?  He says.

We’re just waiting for Michael, she whispers.  We’re gonna go um…

Bowling, i say desperately.

Yeah but why RU whispering?  He demands.

We’re going bowling, she insists stubbornly.

Liz, what were you doing down there on the floor?

I dropped my ring, she whispers.

But why RU whispering?

Meanwhile Topolsky is telling Hank, I’m going to give you my number.

Uh-huh, Hanks says sleepily.

And could you have Michael call me?  She says sweetly.

Bowling?  Kyle says.

Yes, i say.  Seemed better than going to putt-putt.  My putter’s all worn out.

He is about to reply when i see Topolsky about to glance this way.  I grab Kyle and hiss at him, Get down!   And i pull his head down.

What RU doing, Max?  Kyle says.

Topolsky hears him, goddamn his his sorry ass to hell.  She stops in her tracks and scans just like they probably teach them at Quantico or whatever factory she staggered out of.  I am hoping she wont see us.  But she sees us alright.  Then she gets in the car and leaves.

 

Back in front of the Crashdown i am strolling with Liz, in a much lighter mood.  It’s late enough that the traffic has thinned and given the quiet streets an enchanted quality.   I say, When this is over…you and i could do lunch or something.

Lunch?

Luncheon.  Indeed.  Yeah, if you like.

So, like in the caf?

Sure, i say.

Okay.  Great, she says.  It’s a date…no!  It’s not a date.  It’s …a lunch.

I groan, Liz, a date by any other name…

As i’m speaking i see from the reflection in a flat of water on the street that Izzie has transpired behind us and looks very upset.

I better get home, Liz says.

You better, i say.  It’s late and there are scary boogers all over the place.  Like that one behind us!  I say dramatically and she turns and sees Izzie and we both laugh.

I gotta go talk to Sis, i say.  As i move past Liz i make my hand touch hers and linger for a few seconds and in so doing the touch feels more intimate than a thousand kisses.

Dushka, i whisper to Liz.

Izzie is steaming when i reach her.

Michael’s gone AWOL, she says.

 

Izzie gets in the jeep and i drive.

You know Michael cant control his power, she says.

I know it.

As i am crawling in first gear past  the alley that runs behind the Sheriff’s building i see that the window to Valenti’s office is open and i know that Michael must be inside.  And it’s then, of all times that Valenti decides to come into his office late.

Oh, no, i say.  Michael’s in trouble.  We gotta help him or we’re all fucked.

Okay, she says.  Get Michael out of there and i’ll keep Valenti away from his office for as long as i can.

Right, i say laconically, wondering WTF i’m gonna do.

 

Michael doesnt have the genes to be a second story man and i’m no better but i manage to crawl up the side of the building to the open second floor window of Valenti’s office.  I heave myself over the sill and say. Let’s go Michael!  Valenti’s here.  Let’s go.  Let’s go !

It’s close.  It’s very, very close.  We’re just climbing over the sill when Valenti’s footsteps are just outside his office door.  As we both hang onto the ledge i close the window and the burglar bars and touch the lock and vector a pulse of kinetic energy thru it to lock it from the outside.  I nod at Michael and we jump in blind faith into the open dumpster below and hope we land on something soft.

We do.  It’s soft.  But it stinks, whatever it is.  I do not want to know.  And we are out of sight when Valenti looks out his window.

Told you this was no big deal, Michael says.

You evil son of a bitch, i say.

 

When we are outside Michael’s trailer i stop and kill the engine.  Alright Michael, i say.  What did you find?

He holds up a key, that’s all. Just a fuckin key that could be to anything, anywhere.

I found it in Valenti’s thermos bottle, Michael says.

That’s all?  I say.  All that for a fuckin key?

Hey!  They’d taken all the files.  Everything.  But when i touched that key i had a vision.

A vision, huh?  I say, ready to kill him.

It was something weird, he says.  I couldnt make out what it was.  But i saw something important.

Gimme!  I say, yanking the key from his hand.  I concentrate hard but get nothing.

Nothing, i say, handing the key to Izzie.  Here, Isabel.  See if you…

She shivers and writhes and shakes her head.

Whadja see?  I demand.

Oooh, she says.  A naked man in a shower.

Michael yanks the key away from her and gets out and stalks off.  I get out and follow him.

Hey!  Stop!  I say.

He turns toward me and looks down.

Sorry about before, i say to him.  Maybe i really dont know what it’s like for you.

He nods slowly and says, The thing is i’ve realized that the fact my life sucks is a good thing.  It’s easier.  We always will have to be able to leave.  Pack a suitcase, go somewhere else.  Maybe 10 years from now, maybe a week from now, maybe…tomorrow.  So my advice is dont get in too deep, Maximus.  It only makes us weaker.

 

 

Roswell 8: Max’s Story

The eraser room.  In here waiting for Liz.  This room accommodates two classes of activities: cleaning erasers, and making out or fucking, and the thought of the latter seems suddenly grotesque and i wonder if i am a closet puritan or will grow up to be one.

Liz is right on time.  She comes in and says, So.  This is the famous eraser room.  I’ve never been here before.

I just thought we needed to be private, i say.

Right, she says and turns and locks the door.

You were right about Topolsky.  She isnt what she seems to be.  She’s trouble.

Oh, she says quietly.

I turn and remove a section of wall that had been placed to close a vent into an office room.

She’s been using this office, i say.  I thought we might find out why she’s really here.

Yeah, Liz says and comes over next to me and looks thru the vent.  The office is empty now but for a desk.  Liz is close enough that i can smell her skin and i feel my body getting out of control and it makes me angry at myself.

I say, She has 6th and 7th periods off so we may be here awhile.

We sit down to wait and Liz says, Okay, i’m still confused.  If you crash landed in 1947 RU like a 70 year old in a 16 year old body?  Or do you guys just age differently?  Is one alien year equal to several human years?

I cock my head at her and say, You’ve given this much thought, havent you?

Kind of, she says and grins selfconsciously.

Well, we know we came out of the maturation chambers in 2003.  We dont know how long we were there.  When we came out we looked like three year olds.

So, were you um…like, green?

Green?

Before you took human form were you three feet tall and green and slimy?  You know, i’m sorry about asking this.  It’s Maria’s question.

I look at her without saying anything for just long enough to make her uncomfortable.  Then i say, No, we just always looked like this.  And i can tell you now because it doesnt matter anymore.  It’s too late for it to make any difference.  You earthlings are so stupid and arrogant.  And vulnerable.  It started when i healed you.  I placed the seed in you then and by now it’s worked its way around your spinal cord and into the brain ventricles…

Liz’s face goes from confused to disturbed to…

…around the cranial nerves.  And when you touched the next person you infected them and so on.  It’s been spreading exponentially.  Oh, sure, you feel fine now, but not for long.  An armada of ships is on its way.  Soon all of you earthlings will be feeding us for a long, long time.

I give her an evil leer.  When i see by her face she’s starting to believe it i stop and let the laughter bust out of me and i see how pissed Liz can get when she knows she’s been had.

You…you actually believed me  Oh, that’s the funniest part of all.  Oh, you earthlings…

UR such a dick, she says, laughing.  When she stops laughing she says, Dont ever do that to me again.

I wont.  One of those in a lifetime is enough.  I’m sorry.  Things are so intense and i just couldnt resist.

So you dont really know what planet you’re from or who your people are other than Michael and Isabel.

No idea, i say.  Not a one.

That must be liberating, in a way.

Indeed?  How is that?

Um, well, with me you know like my parents own the Crashdown so everybody in town knows who i am.  If i so much as get a haircut everybody knows about it and feels entitled to tell me their opinion of it.  It makes life claustrophobic.  How am i ever supposed to become whoever it is i’m supposed to become when everyone’s a voyeur and they’re all studying me?  Sometimes i wish i could be invisible.

I bury my face in my hands and say, Dushka, sometimes i wish i didnt have to be .so invisible.

She says, You know, Michael and Isabel have such beautiful, soulful eyes.  Like nothing i’ve ever seen on earth.

Then i presume by implication that i do not.

No, Max.  Your eyes are all too human.  You have these gray eyes that look kind of dead.  When i look into your eyes it’s like looking into the eyes of an assassin.

Thank you, i guess.  Maybe it goes with being boss alien.  IDK how it came to be like that.  It just always has been.  But it seems almost a pointless formality because i really have very little control over Isabel and almost none over Michael.  I always have to be careful how i handle Michael.

Liz looks at me intently for a moment and says, You dont think Michael and Isabel respect you, do you?

This catches me completely by surprise.  I say woodenly, I never thought about it but no.  I dont think they do.  I dont think they love me much either.  I’m more of a nuisance to them than anything else.  I mean, i’m not bleeding over it but…

Max, give yourself and them more credit.  They respect you far more than you think.  And i know you feel guilty about saving me and all the shitstorm it’s caused but that’s all the more reason you have to be strong.  Dont go to pieces now.  You’re too important.  We all need you.

Well i guess…when i saved you i undermined my credibility.  I cant tell them not to do something i’ve done myself.  It shows me as a hypocrite.

Then just say, Do it cause i said so.

This is getting tiresome, Liz.  Dont try to talk me up like this.  Save it for your other friends.  You dont know anything about it…

I shut up immediately when we hear the door to the office open and close.  We crowd closer to see and hear.  Topolsky is in there with a guy in a suit.  She says, Okay, i’ve looked thru all of them and this is where i want to get started.

Michael Guerin, the suit says.  Have you interviewed him yet?

No, she says.  He hasnt set foot in school since i’ve been here.  But if Mohammed wont come to the mountain…

You want me to go talk to him?

No.  I’ll do it.  Just check to make sure the address is correct.

You got it, he says.

Liz and i just look at each other.  It’s not immediately clear what to do but it is clear this could be big, big trouble.  For Michael and maybe for all of us.

Roswell 7: Max’s Story

Geometry class again.  Topolsky the replacement has sketched a triangle on the board and is saying, So we know that the sum of angles A,B and C is 360 degrees.

Bullshit, Liz mutters.

Miss Parker?  Topolsky chirps.

180, Liz says.

I’m sorry.

It’s a triangle, Liz says cooly.  The sum of the angles would be 180 degrees.

Nervous laughter from the class.  Do they sense what i think i do?

Right, right, of course, Topolsky says pleasantly.  Equals 180 degrees.

And a shiver passes thru me.

 

Later.  In the empty hall outside Liz says, I went to see Michael yesterday.

I blink and say, What?

So that’s why Michael’s so wound up about getting that photo.

She was asking questions about him and i just thought he oughta know.

Liz, you cant just show up at Michael’s and get him riled up like that.  He doesnt consider before he acts.  He just acts.  You dont know him.

But that’s not all, Max.  I bumped into Topolsky in the hall and she dropped a bunch of students’ personal records.  Including Michael’s.

Uh, ok, ok, i say, starting to lose it.  But she’d pulled other students’ records?

Well, yeah but the point is she pulled Michael’s.

How many others were there?

IDK.  Maybe ten.

That’s a lot.

It might have been five.  I’m not sure how many.

This is why you went to Michael’s?

I’m sorry.  I thought Michael was in danger and i’d better tell him.

In danger of what?

I have no idea.  But if there’s a spy among us dont you think we should do something?

Spy?  I say, raising an eyebrow.

Well, yeah…

Liz, listen…

No, Max.  That sort of thing does exist, doesnt it?  There are like, special units of the government that are alien hunters.

Men in black, i say, fighting the hysteria that is crawling from my stomach into my groin.  Area 51.  X Files.  The truth is out there.

Dont dismiss me like that, she says angrily.

So you think Topolsky is an alien hunter?

When you say it like that it sounds so stupid.

Liz, i…we thank you for looking out for us.  But we have to go on with life like it was before all this started.  If they really know anything why havent they already done something?  It’s a mindfuck.  A war of nerves.  They’re trying to get one of us to panic and by god that is not going to happen if i have anything to do with it.  We have to be very careful.  All of us.  That means you too.

 

Slouching around the school.  I feel like i’m freezing even though the thermometer says 85 degrees.  When i see what i see i stop dead.  Sheriff Valenti shaking hands with Topolsky.  It sets off screaming horrors in my head.  Panic.  Misery.  Futilty.  Why Michael?  Everything is shaping up like a witch hunt and IDK if we could survive one.  At the very least Liz is right that Topolsky is not at all what she seems.  And WTF is a substitute teacher doing with a bunch of student records?

 

Roswell 6: Max’s Story

IDK what startled me awake.  Nothing but silence and the watery light of the galled, weary moon seeping around the curtains.  Then a noise, just a furtive rustle made by someone trying to be very quiet.  The hairs on my neck stand up as i reach for the baseball bat.

The window creaks open.  When the intruder is standing in my room i launch myself at him and choke up on the bat.  I am just about to strike he shrieks, DONT HIT ME!

It’s only Michael.

Good way to get your head bashed in, i say.  You have a fight with your old man?

Hank’s not my old man.  And no, i just couldnt sleep.

I roll the sleeping bag out on the floor for him.  He doesnt move.  He just stands at the window and looks at me.

Hey, i was sleeping, i say irritably.

Amazing, he says.

What’s amazing?

That you can sleep when the key to our existence is out there.

Michael…

Max, listen.  That picture Valenti showed Liz?  It means someone else like us it out there, someone who was here in 1959.  That means he was here during the ’47 crash.  He knows who we are, where we came from.  He knows why we’re here.  Maybe he knows how to get us back.

I say, Then he’s old enough now that he’s probably dead.  If not he could be a dangerous killer.  He’s already killed once.  Maybe all three of us wouldnt be a match for him.  He could kill us all.

Why assume that, Max?

Michael, i know how you feel.  I wanna know too.  But the sheriff has that picture and there’s no way in hell he’d ever let us see it, right?

He smiles a Mona Lisa smile but says nothing.

 

Geometry class.  Old man singer couldnt straggle in today i guess.  In walks a tall blonde right out of somebody’s T&A all star team.  She’s not really dressed like a professional but who cares.  It’s just that she’s showing so much cleavage i hope she doesnt shove it at me because i would look and i would be very embarrassed.

She says, My name’s Kathleen Topolsky.  I’ll be substituting for Mr. Singer who will be out sick for a few days.

A boy next whose name i never bothered to learn says, I hope he’s seriously ill.

I smile at him tightly but say nothing.

So, Topolsky says.  The infamous Roswell, NM.  Before we get to work let me just ask.  Does anyone here really believe in aliens?

A nervous twitter from the class.  Topolsky must be making them nervous, too.  I look anxiously over at Liz but she is looking at Topolsky.

Okay, Topolsky says.  Let’s take roll.

When she calls Michael’s name twice and he doesnt answer she says, Does anyone know where Michael Guerin is?  You!  She says, looking at me.  You’re Max Evens, right?

Yeah?

Do you know where Michael is?

Er, i hesitate and then say, Michael’s not much into Geometry.

Everyone but Topolsky laughs.

He’s not into it, she echoes.  Well i guess i understand.  Geometry’s pretty uninspiring stuff.

Liz and i exchange curious looks.

After this class i am exhausted.  Paranoia is taking its toll on me but i cant let on.  It would demoralize the others.

Liz walks up to my side and says Hi.

I say Hi, mechanically.

How weird was that?  Liz says.

How weird was what?

That substitute just asked all those questions about Michael.  What was that about?

She was just taking attendance, i say.

Right.

Dushka, dont worry about it.  No one’s suspicious of Michael.  It’s me they’re after.

Isabel is right behind us.  Rudely, she brushes past Liz and says, Hi, Liz.  Bye, Liz.

Izzie grabs my arm and says to me, We should go.

 

Izzie and i are at home.  With us is Michael and we are having another heart to heart.  It seems Michael went into the sheriff’s building and cased the place.

Michael, RU crazy?  Izzie roars.

I didnt just wander in, he says cooly.  I had a cover story.

And what was that cover story?  Izzie demands.

I was selling candy for charity.  Peanut cluster anyone?  They’re really good.

And they bought it?  Izzie says.

No.  They all seem to be on a diet.

Not the candy, Einstein, Izzie says.  The cover story.

Yeah, they bought it, he says to Izzie irritably.  Why RU wearing that?

Because Michael, she says, I have a date.  With a guy i like.  In fact i like my human life here.  In fact i have a date next Friday night that i hope i wont miss because i’m running from the law.

Michael stands his ground.  He says, You two,the point is this: that file has to be in Valenti’s office.  He leaves for the day at 7:30.  There’s no one else in that entire wing of the building.  We go in, find the file, get the info, put the file back…

So how do we get in, i say.  Hypothetically.  If not hypothetically then we are all guilty of conspiracy to commit a felony.

The window, Michael says.  It has a lock but nothing you cant handle.

Alarms?  I say.  Hypothetically.

Piece of cake, Michael says.  Even i could disable it.

Max, dont humor him, Please?  Izzie says.  I cant believe you’re even considering it.

I just want to know how feasible the plan is.

Izzie glares at me and i say quickly, Which it’s not.

Michael says desperately, This is what we’ve been waiting for all our lives.  This is the first time we’ve ever had a clue that might tell us who we are.  We dont have a choice.  And with government agents after us we better get our asses in gear.

Agents?  I say angrily.  WTFRU talking about.

Talk to Liz, Michael says cryptically.  Then he gets up and leaves.

 

 

Roswell 5: Max’s Story

It’s full dark and I am in the driver’s seat of the jeep with Isabel. And we’re waiting for Michael, who is fashionably late.  A crescent moon hangs cocked in the sky over Roswell like an eye narrowed in anger.  Its scant light throws shadows from the trees that tell of compass headings before the fall of night.  Michael comes out and gets in the back seat.

Where’s your stuff?  Izzie says.

I’m wearing it, he says.

I pull into traffic cautiously, reminding myself that the festival is underway and people will be driving crazy.  I keep an eye out for any sign anyone’s too interested in us.

Michael says, So with this picture what we’re saying is that there’s more of us?

One more, i say grimly.  At least there was in 1959.

So then there’s hope, he says.  I mean, if we can find him he can tell us where we came from, what we are…

Michael, calm down, Izzie says.  We had one possible relative 50 years ago.  All we know about him is that he’s probably a killer.

Suddenly i sense that we are being followed.  Without signalling i swerve the jeep into an alley and find it blocked by a broken down pickup truck full of produce.

Behind us our surveillance screeches into the alley and we are trapped.  When i squint i see that it is the clunker that Maria DeLuca, Liz’s best friend drives.  Maria is an hysteric like her mother Amy and that’s why she drives like that.  When the car stops Maria gets out on the driver’s side and Liz out of the passenger’s side and they stand for a moment on wet asphalt.

When Liz and Maria start walking toward us Izzie says, Great.  Why are they here?

I guess they’ll tell us, someday…i break off.

We get out of the jeep and start walking toward them and we stop six feet away from each other.

Maria says, Please dont tell me that they’re all three…

Well, Liz says and shrugs.

I’m gonna be sick, Maria says.

Maria knows, Liz says.

Unbelievable, Michael says, shaking his head.

Look, i promise i wont tell anyone, Maria says.

Michael advances toward them angrily.  He says, Get your car out of the way.  Now!

I really dont think you should try to leave, Liz says.  It’ll look to everyone that you’re guilty.

Guilty of what?  Michael says.  Saving your life?

Michael…i start to say but Liz cuts me off.

I think i have an idea.  If we can all work together maybe we can throw Valenti off.  Maybe even discredit him, she says.

We are not together, Michael says passionately.  Our lives are at stake, not yours.  Now move your car.

Michael, i say wearily, This cant last forever, this secret.  I dont even want it to anymore.

I cant change what happened, Liz says.  But if you run Valenti will know it’s you.  How long before some government agency follows?  I dont think Valenti’s convinced anybody but himself.  Maybe we can stop this right now.

Stop it how?  Izzie says.

Valenti’s father was sheriff before he was.  Old man Valenti was the one that found that corpse. He kept the photo and became obsessed with aliens.  He became a laughing stock and an embarrassment before they removed him from office.  After that he went around raving about alien invasions and how the world was infiltrated by them.  He’s in a nursing home now on meds.

How do you know all this?  I say.  I never heard…

I’m going out with Valenti’s son, remember?  Liz says.

And Kyle’s not the sharpest knife in the drawer and he runs his mouth, i say.  And everybody wonders when this version of Valenti will go into permanent orbit so anything he says about aliens could earn him a trip to the funny farm.

Nobody wants a witch hunt for aliens in this town, Max, Liz says.  They’ve already had one.  To them aliens are a joke and an embarrassment like the tourists.

She’s right, i say to Izzie.

I shouldve known you’d side with her, Izzie says.

I’m not on anybody’s side, i say wearily.

Then get on a side, Max, Isabel says.  Time is running out.

Very well, i say.  Maria, move the car.  I’m turning myself into Valenti.

You’re disgusting as a martyr, Izzie says.

It’s me he wants, i say.  He doesnt suspect anyone else.

Michael looks at me with incredulity and says, Max, we agreed that we were leaving.

Isabel says, Max, honey, i’m sorry i said that.  I didnt mean it…

I know it, i say.

I cant leave without you, Izzie says.  I wont.

The mantle of leadership crushes and devours its wearer.  And you dont have to be a king or a president.

Izzie walks up to Liz and says, What’s your idea?

 

Izzie and i go home long enough for her to finish struggling into her alien suit.  I wasnt going so i dont have anything to wear but an old black suit.  With a black tie that equals a Man In Black.  Irony abounds.

Izzy continues to the festival with Maria and i go in the jeep with Michael.  We’re in traffic when Michael says, It wont work, Maximus.  It’s too adolescent.  It’s just a prank.

If it doesnt we’re no worse off.  And i’ll be in jail anyway.

You dont have to do it this way, Max.  We can still leave.  We can just pick up Isabel and go.

No, Michael.

It’s about Liz, is that it?  He says.

No!  Well, sorta.  I dont even fucking know, Michael.  Maybe i’m just so sick of hiding i want it to be over and if i turn myself in you and Izzie will be protected.  But that is not what i want.  That’s why this is going to work.  It has to.

It’s stupid, he says.

I shrug and save my breath.

 

At the festival.  I am finishing off a corn dog when i see the Man himself walking toward me.  I toss the food away and look around and see that i am hemmed in by a circle of portable toilets.

I have some questions for you, Valenti says.

Oh, i love questions, i say.  What kind of questions?

Were you at the Crashdown Cafe during the shooting?

Yes, i say.

What did you do to Liz Parker ?

Nothing, i say.  I didnt do anything to her.

I dont believe that, he says thru clenched teeth.

He spins me around and slams me hard against one of the portable crappers and i just do get my head turned so i dont end up with a broken nose.  I guess in this little cul de sac without without witnesses around he feels empowered.

This is police brutality, i croak.

You’re damn right, he says.

Before i know it my hands are cuffed behind my back.

Arent you going to read me my rights?  I say.

Do you have any?  He says.

Valenti grabs me by the scruff of the neck and marches me back to the main fairway where there are lights and people and when i see what i think i see i wonder if maybe everything’s going to be alright.

Just out of sight there is a sickening thump and Valenti says WTF under his breath.  He marches me toward the sound and we see Maria on the ground in front of a stopped car.  Somebody in an alien suit that looks like a cockroach is kneeling over her.  The cockroach looks around wildly before fleeing and knocks somebody down trying to escape.  An apparent hit and run.  It’s Michael in the cockroach suit but Valenti doesnt know it.  And he doesnt know there’s someone else in the same costume here.  Valenti tells his deputy to chase after the cockroach while he sees to Maria, who is still on the ground.

Maria?  Valenti says.  Stay with me.  I’ll call an ambulance.

No, no dont do that, she says.  I dont think i’m even hurt but my shoulder…aghhh.

Valenti looks down at her shoulder and touches it briefly.  It’s a silver alien handprint just like in the photo Liz saw.  And suddenly everybody has a camera out taking pictures of Valenti kneeling by a girl in an alien suit.

Valenti’s deputy shows up with a guy in a cockroach suit.  It’s a bad moment because IDK if Michael’s gotten away and ditched his version of the suit.  Valenti yanks the head off the cockroach suit and it is none other than his son Kyle.

Dad?  Kyle says.  What is this?  Maria, what happened?  RU alright?

You didnt see any of this?  Valenti says.  You didnt …

I was waiting over there for Liz.  She was fifteen minutes late.  This deputy grabbed me and brought me here.  What happened?

Let him go, Valenti says miserably.  He looks at his hand and sees silver paint.

Come on, Max, he says, bullying me away from the crowd.  We gotta talk.

When we are back in the valley of the crappers Valenti says, You think you’re a real smart guy, dont you?

IDK what you’re talking about, i say desperately.

Dont play games with me, he says, holding his hand up to the light.  This is silver paint from a fake handprint on Maria DeLuca.  But you went to Liz Parker in that cafe and did something to her.  And i need to know what it was.

I had a hamburger, i say indignantly.  When the gun went off i ran away because i didnt want to get shot.  Did i break the law?  RU arresting me?

He spins me around again and takes off the handcuffs and says, No.  Your parents would have you out in an hour.  But let me tell you something.  I’m gonna find out what the truth is.   You can count on it.  You’re a smart guy, Max.  But so am i.

He stalks off, leaving me alone with the crappers.

The truth, he wants.  The truth is right here in front of him but he wouldnt know it if it bit him on the ass.  There may be a bullseye on my back but right now he’s being measured for a clown suit.  So we’ll all go back to Roswell and it’ll be like the Cold War.  A war of nerves, waiting to see who blinks first.

 

Liz is waiting where she said she would.

Hey!  I say.

Hey, she says and smiles.  She’s never smiled like that at me before.

There is no chilly distance this time.  I am only a foot away when i push her hair over her ear with my left hand.

I say, You had a er…

A bad hair day, she says.  Thank you.

For what?  I should be thanking you.  I guess we’re even, if you’re the kind that keeps balance sheets…

I’m not, she says.

Listen to me, Liz.  It’s not safe.  I mean for you and me to er…

I dont care, she says.

Oh, dushka.  I dont either but unfortunately it isnt just us.  If we were just a few years older and lived together on the other side of the country it might be different.  We could make it up as we went.

I can wait, she says.

I dont see how, i say.  A year, a month.  You could change your mind.  Everything’s so complicated.

This is the second or third time i’ve been in kissing range and this time the moment is perfect.  But i dont kiss her.  I just turn and walk away like the dumb fuck i am.  What is wrong with me?

Max!  She says to my back.  I never got to thank you for saving my life.

Water under the bridge, i say.  You may have just saved mine.  We’re even.  I’ll see you at school.

And i get out of here before i do something really stupid.

**********************

Note:  The five chapters i’ve written so far contain the events of the pilot of the tv series Roswell.  I’ve been very faithful to that story except i’ve reinvented Max a little bit.  And by the way, the part of Isabel was played by Katherine Heigl in the tv show.

 

Roswell 4 Max’s Story

When it gets too much i just hide.  Right now i’m in an empty classroom they use for art classes, surrounded by frail and frangible things.  Even with the lights out so much sun gets in here it gives me a headache.  Yet another reason to hate Roswell.  Some day i am moving to northern Minnesota.  There’s only fifteen minutes left on this Friday afternoon before we all go home.  I could just take off now but i dont want to be seen doing that.  I’m in enough trouble already.

The harder all three of us try to be human the more alien we become.  Alien to ourselves and to each other.  We are the damndest things.

I’m surprised at the objets d’art in progress here.  Some of these kids actually have talent.  The sculptures are remarkable for the busts that all seem to be of some historical figure.  One says it is a bust of Voltaire here, over there Shakespeare and Aristotle.  Life can only be understood backward but has to be lived forward.  Who said that?  Stanley Milgram i think.  No, he got it from Kierkegaard.

IDK how Liz finds me but she comes steaming into the room and slams a book bag onto an empty table and i wonder if i’m in trouble.

She stands there catching her breath at a chilly six or seven feet away.  Finally she says, I need to know the truth, Max.  Or i’ll go to Valenti and tell him everything i know.

For a moment i say nothing.  Then i stride toward her until i am right in her face.  I say, Dont you ever threaten me again.  Not with that.  I let you into my mind and now you’re using what you saw against me?  How dare you!  I go thru life scared shitless, every day.  Every night i go to bed wondering if i’ll wake up in a concentration camp.  If you want something just ask me but dont…

I move forward and she backs up and i stop when i think she’ll scream if i move any closer. Then i turn away from her and say, give me a minute, please.  Stay right there.

I walk a lap around the room, just enough to take the edge off this rage i am feeling.

Alright, i say when i am a few feet away from her.  Let’s start over.What do you want to know?

Liz digs in a pocket for something and cant quite get it out.  She is so cute when she’s clumsy like this.  Finally a sheet of paper emerges with her neat, immature handwriting on it.

Finally she says,  Alright.  Here we go.  Where did you come from?

IDK, i say.  When she ship crashed i wasnt born yet.

So there was a crash?

All i know is that it wasnt a weather balloon that fell that night.

The ship crashed in 1947, she says like a cross examining attorney.  But you’re 16.

We were in maturation chambers for quite a while.

We?

Isabel and Michael are also…er…

OK, she says.  That answers that question.  What powers do you have?

Well, we can connect with people.  We arent telepaths but we can get into people’s heads and let them into ours.  As you know.  We can manipulate molecular structures.

Wait, she says.  What’s that mean?

We can alter electrostatic charges in molecules in such a way as to change the shape and appearance of inanimate objects.  We can do the same with living tissue but it’s more difficult and hazardous.  We can alter the conformations of proteins by altering their tertiary structures…

Stop, she says.  Stop!  What’s that mean?

Oh, Liz.  One day you’ll take Physical Chemistry and understand.  But in the meantime…well.  I’ll show you.

I walk over to a half finished bust that doesnt have a name on it.  IDK who it’s supposed to be.  To me it’s just an old bald headed bastard with a long, hillbilly beard.  I pass my hand in front of his face and his face becomes smooth as a sliced potato.  After i pass my hand back over the face his features are perfectly restored.

I really did that, i say.  I didnt put it into your mind.  This is how i healed you, but in living tissue it’s more complicated and demanding.

Max, she says.  Who else knows this?

No one, i say.

What about your parents?

We dont tell anyone.  We kinda think our lives depend on it.

So…so when you healed me you risked all this getting out, didnt you?

Yes!

Why?

It was you, i say.  You think i’d risk everything for anybody else?  It was you.  Oh, dushka, it has always been about you.

She seems to struggle with herself.  Finally she says, Uh…Valenti showed me this photo of a corpse.  A murder victim.  It had the same silver handprint on its chest.  And i noticed it was from somebody who was right handed.

That…cant…be, i say, smoldering in agitation.

The photo was marked 1959.

That’s impossible, i say.

Kyle saw your handprint on my stomach.  He mustve told his dad and that’s why he questioned me.  He had me lift up my top but the handprint was gone.

That didnt satisfy him?

No, it didnt.  He said the handprint on the murder victim went away even before the autopsy was done.

Oh, holy shit, i say.

That’s not all, Max.  Valenti found my waitress uniform with a bullet hole in it.  He asked me if you were at the Crashdown during the shooting.  Max, he suspects you.

And i think, there goes the goddamn ball game.

I turn to leave and she says, Max!

I have to go, i say.

Wait, Max.  Go where?  Where RU going?

 

When i get home i go right to Izzie’s room, where she is struggling to get into an alien costume for tonight.

When she looks up at me i say, Forget the festival.  It’s time to leave.

Leave?  She says.

We’re leaving Roswell for good, i say.  All three of us.

 

Roswell 3: Max’s Story

I gotta hand it to Michael and Isabel.  They dont jump me and attack me viciously, although i deserve it.  Michael accepts what i did stoically and Izzy gets a little bitchy but i expected much worse.  After school we have stopped at a fast food place (not the Crashdown!)  For a heart to heart.  Idly i wonder why some people cannot talk business without strapping on a feedbag.  I’m not even hungry.  To me eating is just filling a hole.

One down side of being an alien is that we dont have the taste buds humans do; everything tastes like cardboard so we usually soak our food in tobasco sauce.  A human couldnt eat it.  The tacos we have been served are all disgracefully cold but we know how to correct that.

I cant believe any of this Max, Isabel sighs.  I finally convince myself i can have a human life and you blow it in some fit of lunacy.

Fuming, she looks across at Michael and says, How did you let my demented brother do this?

Hey, dont turn this around on me, he says stolidly.  I’m not his mother.

Look, i said i was sorry, i say to them defensively.

You’re sorry, Izzie says.  You’re sorry?  You break a moral covenant and that’s all you can say?  It’s against the rules, Max.  The rules all three of us made.

You use your powers all the time, i say to her, trying to change the subject.

Izzie sighs and looks at me and says, I use them recreationally.

You mean you use them privately, i correct her.

Yeah, that too, she says, placing her palm an inch above the cold taco that is in front of her.  She can heat food up just by doing that.  I used to wonder how that was possible, focusing that kind of heat in the frail tissue in her hand that seems mainly human.  Until i figured out she doesnt focus heat at all.  It’s a rapidly reversing magnetic field she generates like the one in a microwave.  The water molecules in the food are highly polar and the reversal spins them around very fast and the friction heats or cooks the food.

The important thing is damage control, she says pontifically. We need deniability.   We just need a cover story for little miss scientist.

I say nothing but drink my warm pop and avoid her eyes.

Mother of God, Izzie says to me.  You told her!

I didnt have a choice. i say.  Look, it’ll be OK.

But Isabel is just getting warmed up.  She says, Dont you see how everything’s changed?

No it hasnt, i say, glaring at her.  You getting bent like this accomplishes nothing.

She’s right, Maxwell, Michael says.  We’re all fucked.  It’s time to leave Roswell.

Michael gets up and gets his taco and the bottle of tobasco sauce and starts walking toward the jeep.  Isabel and i walk after him.

Michael, dont get your panties in a wad, i say.  We cant just leave.  We dont even need to.

Yes we can, he says dismissively.  We always knew this day would come.  We said when it did we’d be prepared.

Michael, where are we gonna go?  Izzie says.  You know Roswell’s home.  Such as it is.

Roswell’s not home, he says to her.  It’s not even in our star system.

This is the closest thing to home, i say.

For you two maybe, he says.  You were both picked up in the desert and adopted by the Evanses.  You both have a nice middle class family.  I live in a trailer in a trailer park with a drunken old son of a bitch of a foster dad that just keeps me around for the monthly checks.

I get into the driver’s seat and buckle in.  While they are buckling up i throw dirty looks at them.

This is all going to be alright, i say resentfully.  We just need to lay low and…and go back to school and act normal.

Act normal?  Izzie says.  Is that the best you can do, Max?  Dont you see it’s just a matter of time before they find us and give us to some government agency where they’ll exterminate us?

I start the engine and slam my head against the steering wheel three times before i pull off onto the desert highway.

Feeling better, dear?  Izzie says.

No, i say.

Lapsing into a roiling silence as we roll along the desert.  Nobody wants to say anything.  Izzie holds a CD in her hand, using her powers recreationally to play it without a CD player and it is loud.  She’s playing Jean Joseph Mouret’s Rondeau.  You know it as the theme from Masterpice Theater.  Last month it was Gregorian chants.  My big sister has class.  Or at least great taste in music.

But the music’s too loud and it gets on my last nerve.

Izzie, could you please not do that, i snap at her.

I hate it when you call me Izzie, she says.

Sorry.  Isabel’s a mouthful.  Please turn that off.

Yeah, like a CD’s the problem, she snaps at me.

I couldnt just let her die, you know, i say.

I look over at Michael, who is still working on his taco.

How can you eat at a time like this?  I say to him.

Cause i’m hungry, he says.

And of all times a cop in hiding appears with flashers flashing gets behind us.

Is he pulling us over?  Michael says.  Max, get us out of here.

Stop freaking, Michael, i say.  You know you cant outrun a cop.  And stop acting guilty.

I pull off the highway and onto the shoulder of the road and so does the cop.  He gives us an extra blast of the siren for intimidation after he stops his car.

Sensing the emotional storm around me i say with calm desperation, He always pulls kids over.  He does it all the time.  It’s a big game to him.  A game called intimidation.  Now relax and stop acting so guilty.  It’s nothing.

Yeah, nothing, Michael says.

When the cop gets out of the car and puts on his sheriff’s hat and starts walking unhurriedly toward us i see that this long tall drink of water is none other than Jim Valenti.  I think maybe if he were an emphysemic, pot gutted caricature of a southern sheriff i would feel less afraid.  I take a few deep breaths so i wont start babbling senselessly.

When Valenti is three feet from me he says, May i see your license and registration, please.

Of course, sheriff, i say, quaking.  I hand them to him and he makes a big show of studying them before he hands them back.  Then he says, Thank you, Mr. Evans. We had some trouble at the Crashdown yesterday.  You kids be careful out there.

Yes, sir, i say like a little marine.

Watch your speed, he says.  Arrive alive.

And he turns and walks back to his car.

We will, i say, my voice cracking.

You sure know how to pucker up, Maximillian, Michael says.

Fuck you, Michael, i say.  You’re the one that panicked and wanted a chase scene.

After Valenti drives off i move my hand to start the engine but Michael yanks the keys away.

Michael, i tell you everything is going to be fine.

That’s what they said on the Titanic after it hit an iceberg.  No, it will not be fine.  Our cover’s blown.  And i will not hang around and wait for them to catch us.

I say nothing.

I gotta leak, he says, getting out of the car and walking toward the arroyo that runs parallel to the road.

I say to his back, No one’s caught yet.  And maybe there is no them.  

He turns and points at the desert and says, What happened to our real parents?  What happened to everybody else on the ship?  They didnt just disappear.  They were murdered.  And you know that, Max.  You know it.

Liz wont tell anyone, i say.  She’s different.

Really?  He says sardonically.  So how’d she react when you told her?  ‘Great, you’re an alien.  Excellent.  Fantastic.’

After a brief, thick silence Michael says, No, i didnt think so.

And i thought was pissed, Izzie says.

STFU, Isabel, i say.  I have had just about enough of both of you for one day.

 

Walking quiescent streets after nine PM.  This is a small town, folks.  Everything shuts down early.  Not that there’s much to shut down.  In the cloying dampness after a rain my feet are slowly carrying me to the Crashdown Cafe, which will be closed but i know Liz’s room upstairs has a window facing the street.  I’m going to see her.  I hope it’s not the last time i’ll do this.  I dont think it will.  Maybe her window will be open.  Or better still she could be sitting in the roof garden.  That way we could avoid waking up the whole house.

IDK about Liz.  Sometimes she seems like the kind of human that can actually handle aliens and sometimes she acts like such a twinkie.  IDK it yet but she actually writes all that happens in an old fashioned schoolgirl diary.  One day it will disappear and she will have a bird.  Maybe it’s better to write it down on paper like that and keep it off your hard drive.  And love means always making excuses for your beloved.

Why did old man Parker decide to invest in a heavily themed fast food place here, where most of his income will be from tourist seasons?  There is nothing here.  If you want to do this in a place where there is something, why not Alamogordo, or even Socorro, near White Sands where they detonated the first nuke?  Now there’s a place about something.  I’ve heard that the bomb left a crater of melted sand that solidified into something like smooth glass.

I guess you could call your place Fast Fred’s Fallout Food.  Think of the fun you could have with the menu.  Some Mushroom Cloud Soup for you, sir?  How ’bout a China Syndrome Salad?  Or maybe a Plutonium and Cheese?

She is right smack on the roof garden and sees me and i stop and thrust my hands into my pockets.  Hey, Liz, i say quietly.  I have to talk to you.

I wait anxiously as she goes down into the house and finally appears at the front door of the restaurant and unlocks the doors and lets me in.  We walk into the dark, empty restaurant and do not sit down but remain standing ten feet away from each other.  A chilly reception indeed.

She is uncharacteristically silent as she waits for me to start.  Finally i manage to say, I cant imagine what you must feel like right now.  But i’ve thought about telling you a thousand times.

You have?  She says guardedly.  Me?

I snicker and struggle to keep a straight face.

What, she says.

Sorry.  I just…er, keep picturing you in that dress with the uh…cupcakes on it.

What?  She says, screwing her face up.

Forget it, i say.  That was a long time ago.

OMG, she says, face palming.  That’s…that’s right.  I cant believe i actually wore that thing.

I feel myself grinning at her.

I had that dress in kindergarten, she says.  But i didnt know you until third grade.  Wait a minute, she says, getting panicky.  Did you like, read my mind or something?

No!  I say strenuously, walking toward her.  I dont read minds.  But when i healed you i made this-this connection.  It was involuntary.  I saw a rush of things.  And an image of that dress passed by and i knew how you felt about it.

She says frostily, How did i feel about it?

It was and still is the supreme embarrassment of your life.  But your mom made it.  She was so proud of it.  She’d never made a dress before.  So you wore it anyway.  For her.  That’s what you’re like, dushka.

What did you call me?

Dushka.  It’s Russian.  Nothing obscene.  It just means dear or sweetheart.

Liz nods like a bobblehead in slow motion.  As i walk closer i say, I’ve never tried this before but…well, maybe i could make the connection work the other way.  So you could see that i’m still me.  I had a glimpse of you and never gave you a look at me and that seems so unfair.

By now i am standing right in front of her, in ideal kissing range.  Kissing her would be easy and i want to.  The spacing is so right but the mood is so wrong.

But i’ll have to touch you, i say.

She doesnt flinch or move away when i gently put my left hand on the side of her face.

She says, Is this like a Vulcan mind meld or somethin’?

I guess it is, i say, struggling not to laugh.  I just dont have the pointy ears.  Now relax and empty your mind and open it to me.

This time the impact is gentle enough.  The room dissolves into a barely forgotten yesterday, my sister Izzie and i walking naked in the desert on a chilly night, a truck’s blinding headlights  as it pulls up beside of us.  We are both maybe three years old and oddly unafraid but somehow instinctively wary.  I know i am seeing what she is seeing and feeling what she is feeling when she feels it.  The dead end loneliness of a life lived in a house of secrets.  She even sees herself as i see her.  And she knows that in my eyes she is beautiful.

As i remove my hand i say shyly, Did it work?

You know it did, she says.

Just before i pulled away i got a thought from her: Max Evans you have really put a force on me.  I always knew this would happen but i never would have thought it would be an alien.

When the bond is safely broken i think, Hey, ho.  I think i got a live one.